Thursday, August 12, 2010

Aim. Shoot. Kill.

I'll keep this short: The Expendables is fucking awesome. My expectations were met and exceeded. If you're any kind of action fan, a Stallone fan, or a fan of things that don't suck, I bet you'll enjoy this. If you count yourself as belonging to any of the aforementioned categories and this movie doesn't ring your bell, you're lying to yourself about the kinds of movies you like. Stallone and co. totally bring it and there should be no argument about that. The Expendables has all the action you'd want and there's genuine heart to it as well.

The "heart" part is what might confuse some people. You know, Stallone isn't just in this to portray a bunch of killing machines. He doesn't skimp on that end of it, no, but he's also out to give these characters - his character and Mickey Rourke's, in particular - a bit of soul-searching to do. Personally, I'd be disappointed if he hadn't. A younger crowd might get fussy towards scenes where some sincere talk takes place among these battered and bruised legends but that's their hang-up. Stallone knows what he's doing, he knows what needs to be in this movie and sure enough, it's all there.

I wouldn't call this movie retro, I'd call it old-fashioned. Retro, to me, implies camp; a movie that is out to wink at the audience. When I think "old-fashioned," on the other hand, I think of a film that subscribes to the values and tastes of an earlier era without any concern towards fads. The Expendables isn't trying to be old-school, it is old-school. Not so much in how it's shot or edited but in the storyline and the interactions of the characters. There's no pop culture references, no snark, no undermining of the skill-sets of these guys. A lot of modern action movies feel like they have to put macho heroes in their place but this one puts them on a pedestal.

I won't go into any details about my favorite scenes as I really think people owe it to themselves to go in to this with as little spoiled as possible (although the fact is I could tell you about my ten favorite kills and I still wouldn't even be scratching the surface). As terrific as the movie is, I don't know if The Expendables will lead to a revival of this kind of action picture. The sad fact is, even if the public decided they wanted more - as much as Hollywood could give them - there's just not enough filmmakers working today who know how to do these kinds of movies right.

It's enough to make a man cry.


Matt-suzaka said...

Awesome, the wait has been long and I am so glad the movie is finally here. I hope the Expendables can fill that void in my life that it seems to have done for you, and it sounds like it will. Very excited you liked it so much!

Jeff Allard said...

Yeah, I don't want to oversell it too much but I honestly can't believe anyone with an interest in seeing this movie would be disappointed in it.

It isn't non-stop action but I like that. When you see a face like Dolph Lungren's onscreen, you see a dude who's been to Hell and back and you don't get that sense of life's hard knocks very often in the youth-orientated, blemish-free movie world of today. Hardly ever, really, and it's worth spending time with these guys in moments where they're not killing everything in front of them.

It helps, of course, that the moments where they are killing everything in front of them happen to be great. What can I say - I loved it. Hope you dig it, too, Matt.

KK said...

I don't really have a whole lot to say other than I'll be seeing this and Scott Pilgrim this weekend. Just felt like I needed to get into the comment fest with these two legends of the blog.

Jeff Allard said...

Awesome, Karl - can't wait to hear what you think! Not so much about Scott Pilgrim, though.

Bob Ignizio said...

I gotta' be honest, I was a bit disappointed in this one. I think my main problem was it tried to cram too much into one movie. Loved the non-stop action in the last 30-40 minutes, though.

Jeff Allard said...

The last half-hour or so is incredible. Not quite Rambo-level incredible but I don't think the likes of that will ever be recreated on a movie screen (although I've got high hopes for Piranha 3-D).

Still, it was pretty astonishing and I have to think of how neutered even R-rated movies had become from the late '80s all through the '90s and how that's all different now. Not only have movies gone back to being as violent as they were in the '80s but I think they're even more violent. I can't believe the levels of carnage that can sail by with an R-rating.

As for The Expendables as a whole, I saw it a second time and I can still say I'm pleased with it. I see your complaint - I think with a big group of characters, it was hard for Stallone to make everything gel but to my mind these guys all got about as much screentime as they needed to.

You could make the argument that the movie isn't the all-out mindless kill-fest (until the last act, at least) that some say it should've been while at the same time, the character work comes up short. But I guess all I can say is that the mix Stallone came up with felt right to me.